Just before the Ashmolean temporarily closed, we acquired three works on paper by Berlin-based artist Salomé (b.1954). Salomé mainly works in painting, drawing, performance, and sculpture. He first became known as one of the members of the Junge Wilde (‘Young Wild’) art movement that rocked the 1980s art world with their impulsive and expressive painting style. Today, Salomé’s works can be found in public collections worldwide, ranging from Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin to MOMA, New York. Dusche III, 1987 in the Ashmolean’s collection is representative of his dynamic language, often focussing on the human body and using his personal life as inspiration. The lockdown has not influenced his art, he told me:
I have been working on my complete archive for over two years now, going through and adding works, and photographically documenting them. The archive covers over 45 years, after all. I have been making good progress, and hard disks are filling up. This takes a lot of time and things that I had forgotten about tend to appear. As an artist you are used to a ‘lockdown’ in your studio as you are mostly alone with yourself and your art. But of course my social contacts to the outside are now very limited and I miss to be vis-à-vis with my friends. At least we have substitutes today through technical media. Life goes on…
Dutch artist Marcelle Hanselaar (b.1945) lives in London and works in painting and etching. The Ashmolean represents her unique, expressive practise with a portfolio of thirty skilful etchings, The Crying Game, 2015-17, confronting the viewer with human violence in various shapes and forms. Asked about her recent experience, the artist wrote:
The restrictions have created a quiet city full of birdsong and all the studio time that I have always wanted. But I have also begun to feel its limitations tightening around my outlook. I have been going on long solitary walks, early in the morning before many people are out and physically I am healthier than ever. The constrains of a lockdown aren't just about physical, social space but very much affect our sense of time. With our plans in suspended animation and with the unknown outcome of the present situation it feels as though the future us receding into the mist like a distant past. I am working intensively on what seems to become a series of paintings. … Painting is the only way to keep me grounded in these uncanny times.